Grantwriting 101 – A Few Basic Tips

If grantwriting is new to you, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when you approach a foundation:

  • Read the guidelines carefully.  There are many criteria that need to match.  If you are using a database to search for prospects, searching by issue and geography, and whether a foundation accepts proposals will eliminate many prospects that are not a good fit.  Then you can review the details of each foundation, either in their profile or on their website.
  • Give them what they want!  Follow the guidelines, even if you feel like you’ve answered the same question more than once.  They like their format and you’ll increase your chances of getting the grant if you do!
  • Funders usually like to support start-up costs, so they are looking for new programs or new program components that meet a clearly identified need.
  • Demonstrate the need.  Foundations like to know what is working and what isn’t working.
  • Foundations generally like to provide program support rather than general operating funding.  (Individuals are the best source of general operating support – did you know they give 80% of all charitable funding?)
  • Funders don’t like to be alone.  A grant request should typically represent no more than 20-25% of the total program budget.
  • Proposals are like resumes – they’re a sample of your work, so it’s always a good idea to ensure they are error free.
  • Formatting is important – use 12 point font, 1” margins, page numbers and a header or footer that identifies your organization on all the pages.  Reviewers are typically reading multiple proposals and appreciate submissions that are easy to navigate!

The Foundation Center has good introductory materials on writing grant proposals.  If you are interested in getting feedback on your proposals, let us know.  We’d be happy to take a look!